Congratulations to the 2024 Pacific Crest Trail Photo Contest Winners

If you think hiking or riding the Pacific Crest Trail is a challenge, just try judging the PCT photo contest.

Jokes aside, each year, Pacific Crest Trail community members generously contribute their trail photos, forming an impressively vast archive that captures the essence of the PCT and its travelers. These visual records are crucial in our mission in advocating for, cultivating belonging on, and caring for the trail and the lands through which it passes, enshrining the best of why we do what we do. Describing the trail’s allure is no easy feat, which is why we look to the photos to help us tell our stories. Through these donated photos, countless individuals can now appreciate the trail’s breathtaking beauty, feel inspired, and partake in awe of the shared adventures of those who have journeyed along its path.

In the first round of judging (1000 photographs), the five judges, working independently, narrowed the field down to 150 images. There was little agreement. In the Trail Majesty category, for example, 60 finalists were chosen and only one image was selected by three of the judges. (It eventually  finished the competition in first place overall.)  Four other pictures received the nod of two judges and all the other images received just one vote.

“That really goes to show how amazing all of the photos are and how difficult it is to select one over the other. It’s a very frustrating process because there are many fabulous images that don’t place but are still award-winning images.”

-Lee Terkelsen, Contest Coordinator

That said, the PCT community is comprised of incredibly talented individuals, and it is our great pleasure to present this year’s Pacific Crest Trail Photo Contest winners to you. We’d like to extend immense thanks to Lee and the other judges listed below for their time and dedication.

Finally, we’d also like to thank our partner companies who generously provided prizes for the three overall winners:

First Place Overall Winner

1ST PLACE OVERALL WINNER: “Coming out of the San Jacinto Mountains” by Ray Voley.

From the Photographer: This photo captured one of the most beautiful sunsets I\’ve ever experienced. Coming out of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Second Place Overall Winner

2ND PLACE OVERALL WINNER: “Herman Creek, Columbia Gorge, Oregon” by Larry Olson.

From the Photographer: A good place to get water after coming down from the Benson Plateau.

Third Place Overall Winner

3RD PLACE OVERALL WINNER: “Team Rock Work” by Clare Major.

From the Photographer: It takes a team! PCTA and USFS staff work together to slowly move a huge rock into place on a newly rebuilt section of the PCTA in the Hoover Wilderness of California.

How the Contest Was Judged

The panel of five judges conducted four rounds of evaluations to select the winners. Without convening either in person or online, they independently assessed over 1,100 photo entries. Each judge assigned five points for first place, four for second, three for third, and two for honorable mentions. The top-scoring photos were reviewed in subsequent rounds until, following this process, the final winners were determined.

Category-Winning Photos

To access the slideshows showcasing the winners, click on the initial photo within each category listed below. Once the slideshow opens, navigate through the images by clicking on either side of the photo to progress to the next or previous image. Enjoy!

Trail Work Category Winners

1st  – Careful Placement – Christine Beatty  

2nd – Trail Crew With Attitude – Doug Varga  

3rd – Impossible Task – Kai Buss  

Honorable Mention – Bobby Building Stairs – Clare Major  

Honorable Mention – Thomas the Rock Star – Clare Major  

Human Spirit Category Winners

1st – Crossing Silver Pass Creek Waterfall – Michael Gubi

2nd – Whitewater Canyon – Scott Gravatt

3rd – Step By Step – Josh Settle

Honorable Mention – Sun Cups – Markus Folz

Honorable Mention – Hikers in the Snow – Jess Cooper

Honorable Mention – Desert Sunrise – Claire Taylor

Equestrian Category Winners

1st – Packers On-Trail – Clare Major

2nd – Beast of Burden – John Meehan

3rd – Kearsage Train – Jackson Abhau

Honorable Mention – Working Back Up To The Crest – Doug Varga

Honorable Mention – Just the Two of Us – Marina Alvarado

Honorable Mention – Cowboy – Phillippe Liezi

Fauna Category Winners

1st – Mojave Green Warning – Scott McCorquodale

2nd – Osprey Family – Ulrich Arnold

3rd – Caught Between A Rock and A Hard Place – Markus Folz

Honorable Mention – Thirsty Critter At Ridge Lake – Jim Kidder

Honorable Mention – Oh Deer! – Jess Cooper

Honorable Mention – Black Bear – Manne Norman

Honorable Mention – Pika and Flower – Isabell Greene

Flora Category Winners

1st – Hypnotic Yucca – Nicolas Bouchex Bellomie  

2nd – Yellow Poppies – Jakob Baur  

3rd – Follow The Golden Larch Trail – Billy Meredith  

Honorable Mention – Toad Stool – Eric Rupp  

Honorable Mention – First Day of Trail – A Desert Oasis – Ian Petri  

Honorable Mention – Thriving Alone – Alex Hoover  

Trail Majesty Category Winners

1st – Mt. Cedric Wright – John Whitmer

2nd – Sunset at Silver Pass . . . – Miriam Wiesner

3rd – Breakfast Company – Stephen Mankoski

Honorable Mention – Smoke Over Desolation Wilderness – Jason Murrell

Honorable Mention – Last Day Trail Love – Shelly Nork

Honorable Mention – Crater Lake in Stormy Weather – Kira Rudolf

Photo Contest Judges

David Velasquez – Photographer/Videographer/Owner – Sequoia Skye Films based in San Francisco, California. A former high school photography teacher.  

Adam Perez – Freelance Photographer and Film Director with national credentials that include CNN documentaries, New York Times assignments, and many others. based in Exeter, California.   

Linda Wozniczka – Independent photographer based in Fresno, California, whose work has been published in USA Today and in a book of on-the-road photographs.  

Roger Gong – Photographer and owner of Country Roads Studio with experience in all genres of photography, based in Tulare, California.  

Lee Terkelsen – Former photography teacher and a former editor of the Pacific Crest Trail Communicator, lives in Visalia, California. 

Author: PCTA Staff

The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.